Can you read Psalm 23 (KJV) without feeling the love of God and the comfort He provides?
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
From the time of David to that of Ezekiel, to when Jesus walked the earth, to the writing of the Apostle Peter, the message of Scripture is consistent. The Lord cares for His sheep.
At a time of great distress for the people of Israel, when because of their apostasy God was bringing judgment upon them, even so He declared His love for His children, as a shepherd loves and protects his flock. The shepherds of Israel – the priests and scribes who should have tended to the people with care and concern – had abandoned their God-given duty. As Ezekiel 34:2 puts it:
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?”
They were looking out for themselves and not judging with impartiality as the Lord required. This has been His consistent message. He demonstrates this by asking in Micah 6:8 (NIV):
He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
This was a requirement for all – priests and simple peasants alike: Execute mercy and justice in all you do, and do so humbly. But something so basic and integral to walking with Yahweh was impossible for the shepherds of Israel because of their lust of the flesh and embrace of the things of this world.
As a result, God determined to do what the men He had appointed to this task would not do, as shown in Ezekiel 34:15:
“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.”
And isn’t this exactly what Jesus said in John 10:11?
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The Lord promised and He delivered. He did what man in his flesh could not do. This is why Peter was able to say about Jesus and what He accomplished in 1 Peter 2:24-25:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Jesus became the protector and ruler over those whom He came to rescue. Just as the shepherd is the caretaker of the flock who will do whatever it takes to keep the sheep safe, even to the point of sacrificing himself if necessary when hungry wolves attack, so did Jesus do for us.
Because of this, regardless of the darkness and the threats that surround us in the valleys where we walk and in the menace of death that comes at us from every side, we can have the confidence of Christ’s promises to keep us from harm. Why? Because of His rod and staff, His angels that guard us. Peril threatens us as the day lengthens and the time of God’s vengeance approaches. The wild beasts come out at night. But the Lord says in Ezekiel 34:22:
“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey… “
God said this about His people Israel; He says it about His children who trust in the Lord Jesus. What a blessing it is to be one of God’s flock, the sheep in His pasture, and to know that He is watching out for us. Lord, come quickly and rescue Your flock!